Overcoming Hurdles

Elizabeth Ferretti, affiliate at The Writers Company, writes about how to overcome hurdles which prevent you from writing.

How spending time with blocks will move your writing forward.

Is something stopping you from starting, or finishing, a writing project? Do you find ‘stuff’ gets in the way? Does writing feel like an uphill struggle? Then you’re not alone – I suspect you may be in the majority.

Awareness is the First Step

If you’re like me, then you’ll spend decades being aware of “not doing”, but not why you are “not doing”. In my case it took a crisis to push me into writing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Taking a look at what’s holding you back will be worth every minute you invest in it.

So, What is Holding you Back?

Start with a list, divided into sub-headings. Here are a few that work for me: personal, psychological, historical, social ­– but you’ll come up with your own, and you’ll probably find they change over time.

The Power of the List

Under personal you might put: family and work commitments; grammar and spelling; lack of writing experience; health. The psychological focuses on personality. Examples: lack confidence; sensitive to criticism; not good with focussing on myself, and so on. My historical category might include something said or experienced in my past, particularly as a child, that has kept me from writing (though I have a note on this later).

Widening the Circle

My next category is social. I’d put expectations in here, covering family, friends, and your wider community; social/cultural barriers: for example, do you come from a group that is traditionally less ‘heard’? These barriers can be powerful hindrances; limiting beliefs about writing and writers; and so on. Acknowledging the Problem

It’s hard to be creative when you have family commitments, or work or financial issues to deal with. It may be that you want to write about upsetting or emotionally challenging topics, but are worried about doing that. It may be that you simply don’t know where to start. It will help to take an objective look at the issues.

Divide and Rule

Next, divide your lists into things that are in your control and those currently outside your control (I like to use different coloured markers for this!). Then, choose one thing (and only one) that you think you might be able to find a way around. Try your idea out, get some help or advice. Experiment. When you are ready, work on another.

Be Kind

Don’t push it. If you’re busy, set aside five minutes a day to jot down ideas. If you don’t want to explore difficult topics, write about something else, or fictionalise. You don’t have to attack something head on – all writing can be therapeutic (more on this in a future blog). Look Inside

This exercise will help, but it’s equally important to list what motivates you to write – push the boat out a bit, be honest, be bold. Then use your list. It’s there to help you take those steps into writing you’ve always wanted to.

Liz Ferretti is a writing mentor, and writes fiction, features, and educational books. Part way through an MSc in the Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health at King’s College, London, Liz is interested in the links between creative writing and mental wellbeing. She posts regular writing tips on her Writer Revealed Instagram and Facebook. Find out more at her website: and check out her bio and courses at The Writers Company.

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